The Oil Spill + Record Heat Wave = More Energy Tax Commercials = Lies

I’ve noticed energy tax commercials on TV have increased in frequency. I figure the ads are a response by the oil industry to the bad publicity it continues to receive relative to the gulf oil spill, not to mention the incredible heat wave that stretches across America affecting a quarter of our total population this week. The news is calling it “Nature’s Blast Furnace.” Yesterday it was 106 in Baltimore, 104 in Newark, and 103 in Central Park, near 90 in Seattle, and 98 in Boise, Idaho. The Northwest is not used to high heat, and many homes don’t have A/C. In the mid-Atlantic states, it is so hot that construction sites are sending workers home early, and commuter trains are moving slower because the tracks are so hot they bend. There are 500 cooling centers set up in New York City alone. The heat evidently made it as far north as Toronto where they suffered a blackout yesterday. Our old grids are on the line too. Talk about job creation, building a new transcontinental smart grid that can accommodate a variety of energy sources. But that’s another story. With a huge disaster like the spill that continues to spread and now the heat wave, it’s not surprising that more Americans might think mankind does indeed affect the environment and we may be creating a nightmare for ourselves. To continue the same fossil fuel path is self destructive. Enter more frequent energy tax commercials, which is basic “Fear Mongering 101″ among an already income strapped citizenry.

I began to wonder just how much those commercials cost the petro industry, and also if they paid the people that appear in those commercials? The fact is that there is no new energy tax being considered for us. There are, however, new taxes being considered on oil production in the wake of the spill, in order to help clean it up. But what’s really on the line here is $36 billion dollars in government subsidies to the petro industry. That’s right, $36 billion dollars of taxpayer money goes to help one of the wealthiest industries do what it’s going to do anyway.

According to the New York Times, the president of the American Petroleum Institute likes to pit jobs against clean energy progress, something we’ve heard before from the likes of Big Coal that goes like this:

These companies evaluate costs, risks and opportunities across the globe. So if the U.S. makes changes in the tax code that discourages drilling in gulf water, they will go elsewhere and take their jobs with them. (Fear mongering at its finest in the economic state we’re in).

But some government watchdog groups say that only the industry’s political muscle is preserving the tax breaks. An economist for the Treasury Department said in 2009 that a study had found that oil prices and potential profits were so high that eliminating the subsidies would decrease American output by less than half of one percent.

Let’s see. I distinctly remember that Exxon Mobil had a net profit income in just one quarter that amounted to 40.1 billion dollars. So Exxon Mobil alone could literally eat the $36 billion from subsidies stretched across all of our petro industry annually in one lousy quarter and still profit 4.1 billion dollars in that same quarter.

But our petro industry doesn’t want to do that. Instead they threw 340 million dollars at lobbyists in Washington since 2008 to do what lobbyists do best; thwart any kind of progress to move forward to cleaner energy until the oil industry decides.

It’s looking to me like maybe Mother Nature will move us to cleaner energy in the long run, and more than likely too late, but for now we’re being bombarded with commercials meant to scare us by what looks like normal everyday people. From what I’ve seen of a lot of groups these days, we are grossly misinformed altogether, so to see these astute, middle class people give what appears to be an informed opinion without a stutter is a wonder.

Well, I started to dig around to see how much commercials cost, and if the everyday people who appear to be off the street are indeed paid for their “honest” opinion. Geez, I think it’s worse than that. What I found was that the petro industry’s non-video ad copy about impending energy taxes use stock images of middle class Americans supplied by Getty Images. Anyone who has ever imported stock photos for a blog knows what I mean. I’m digressing here, but I used a free stock photo of a coalburner stack for one blog elsewhere and got hit with the worse PC virus I’ve ever encountered. So a heads up on doing that. Treehugger.com exposed the petro industry for using these stock photos with the implication they are really average Americans. Treehugger shows the photos side by side from the anti-energy tax ads and Getty Images. It says a lot about what the petro industry thinks of the American public—we’re dummies that won’t remember that Big Coal was tagged for using the very same stock photos last year.

So who knows who the people are in the actual video taped commercials and whether or not they were paid for their negative response. We certainly know they are not well informed. The next time you see one of those energy tax commercials, don’t let it strike fear in your wallet. It’s not us being considered for a new tax . It’s just unsubstantiated fear mongering, something we should be used to by now. The commercials are really the petro industry’s attempt to transfer their own fears of losing those lucrative subsidies from the American public.

Read it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/business/04bptax.html.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/03/oil-industry-real-americans-energy-tax-campaign-stock-photos-getty-images.php

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U.S. News and World Report April Issue Front to Back About the Future of Energy

I had a lot of time to kill today because I went to an appointment with my elderly mother. I took a few magazines from home, one of which was my April issue of U.S. News and World Report. Its cover title is “The Future of Energy.” Front to back are articles about energy in the U.S. and Worldwide as we go farther into the future.

And I did read the magazine front to back waiting, waiting, and waiting in the waiting room. I wouldn’t attempt to do a synopsis of it. It’s packed with interesting stuff people really should know. For instance, I know the U.S. utility grid is ancient. Our reps have put our infrastructure off for so long, it’s what the article, “A National Power Grid That Thinks,” by Alex Kingsbury calls “dangerously antiquated.” It’s dangerous not only because we face greater threat of blackouts, but so many computers are hooked into our outmoded grid that we’re extremely vulnerable to hackers. There is little cybersecurity either because according the same article 80% of U.S. electric utilities are privately owned, and they hesitate to spend money on security. If hackers find a weak spot the whole system is endangered. The U.S. could suffer a lockup—banks, hospitals, air travel, electric, heat, sewer systems, (bad one there), stores, and transmissions including cell phones. That’s a chaotic picture.

The article finishes on a good note, however, about rebuilding a “smart” grid where citizens that have solar and/or wind power can feed excess into the grid and get credit, and cybersecurity will be up to par.

Buy the magazine, and/or visit U.S. News website as some of the articles become available. There are other good environmental reads there already.http://www.usnews.com/.

The articles in this issue are:

The Energy Race
Climate War’s Front Lines
Smoking Gun or Hot Air? The changing nature of the debate
TWO TAKES Global Warming
Reality Check about the future of 9 key energy types
Stimulus Pipeline Clogged
Invisible Enemy about the military burning toxic waste
Dioxin’s Legacy
Smart, Secure Power Grid
Exxon’s Dilemma
China-U.S. Thaw about being partners for the environment
Dept. of Energy Gets a Jolt
Stuttering Start for Electric Cars
The Next Wave about capturing the power of the oceans
Hot and Cold on Solar
Save Money and the Planet
Q&A John Hickenlooper, Denver’s mayor and what Denver is doing
Green at Tax Time
Dirty Truth About Air

See what I mean? It’s front to back about energy, pollution, and climate. We need to know what’s in our future. Not seeing the housing market failure and subsequent economic downfall cost us dearly. Ignoring Mother Nature could be much, much worse and on a worldwide scale. We are responsible for whatever happens and should stay informed so as not to be lead astray. It’s our future and extremely important we get it right because we’re dealing with long term consequences that we just might not realize early on.

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Nuclear Power Getting a Second Start

Nuclear power is getting a second start in the U.S. with president Obama’s recent thumbs up for 2 nuke plants in Georgia. The president will roll out the first nuclear plant loan guarantee next week. From what I read, the article stated Southern Company/Georgia Power is building the 2 new plants right on the Plant Vogtle site in Georgia.
http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/80993-obama-to-roll-out-first-nuclear-plant-loan-guarantees-.

Stephen Smith, head of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says that everyone is concerned with what to do with the nuclear waste, that there is currently no national repository for it. Smith also said that nuclear power plants are extremely expensive to build and the same amount of money, (in the billions), could be used for conservation programs, to build greener buildings, wind production, and to take advantage of the biomass opportunities in GA. The head of Georgia Power is all for renewable energy, especially the biomass market, and responded on CNN that he agreed with Stephen Smith.

My greatest concern is about the radioactive waste too. Waste has always been the biggest drawback to nuke plants. But like I said about the Fermi project, the property is already purchased and radioactive waste is already present, likewise for Plant Vogtle. Georgia Power is simply using the same site for newer facilities. Besides, in the past few decades since any reactors were built in the U.S., science has been working frantically to come up with ways to either disable radioactive material and/or shorten the time for radioactive material to dissipate from millions of years to only hundreds of years.

Here are links to some viable possibilities for limiting radioactive waste produced by nuke plants. There is so much coming out of India these days, I can’t begin to tell you. I’m not surprised that a team of German and Indian scientists have come up with a polymer that absorbs cobalt, so it reduces the amount of radioactive waste produced during routine operation of nuclear reactors. When I read about this I thought of the gel like beads that absorb excess water for release later. This process won’t disable radioactive waste but it will decrease the amount we have to dispose of.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511090842.htm.

There is also a process that may increase the deactivation time for radioactive waste from millions of years to 300-500 years. While this still seems like a lot of time, it’s a start and sounds like something we really need to get moving on if we’re going to start building nukes again.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080922100148.htm.

Here is a government website that lists all the methods to deal with radioactive waste. We may as well get informed, because nuclear is happening.

http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/factsheets/doeymp0017.shtml.

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2010, The Year of the Tiger Approaches

I love cats, any size or shape, and I know that big cats are in danger of becoming extinct so an article from Environmental News Service I ran across was encouraging. According to the oriental calendar, 2010 is the “Year of the Tiger,” so the government of Nepal jumped on the opportunity to do something about Nepal’s tiger population in the coming year.

Nepal decided to expand Bardia National Park by 347 square miles to increase critical habitat for wild tigers. The same article reported that in the early 1900’s, 100,000 tigers roamed Asia. Now 3,500 of tigers remain in the wild. It’s Nepal’s goal to double their tiger population through various conservation strategies. Evidently, it’s working already. The article stated: “Earlier this year, the first ever nationwide estimate of Nepal’s tiger population revealed the presence of 121 breeding tigers in the wild within four protected areas of Nepal.”

As I read on, I realized there are a number of nations with tiger populations, and they have united to stem the endangerment of this species. Some of the tiger range states that will participate in a summit of the same name this coming year are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. There are technical workshops for law enforcement officials of these countries to “facilitate and coordinate law enforcement action between wildlife enforcement officers, Customs, and police,” as part of the strategy to save the tigers.

There is hope on the horizon for endangered species as countries work together and soon. The idea of sustaining and/or increasing protected habitat, as well as, coordinating strategies for enforcement of poaching laws is already paying off in Nepal.

Read the whole article: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2009/2009-12-28-02.asp.

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Obama’s Visit to China Culminates in Clean Energy Relations on Many Fronts

It appears that President Obama’s visit to China culminated in more than one partnership/program between the two nations to usher in serious changes for the world’s environmental future. An article on ENS website stated the two presidents “welcomed significant steps forward to advance policy dialogue and practical cooperation on climate change, energy and the environment,” building on a previous agreement reached in July.

While neither president was compelled to disclose their final positions going into Copenhagen’s Climate Change Summit next month nor did they declare any numerical emissions targets, they publicly agreed that the outcome at Copenhagen “should include emission reductions targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries.” Of course they acknowledged that responsibilities will be different for every country and based on respective capabilities of those countries.

What peaked my attention in all of this is that the U.S. and China both agreed that whatever happens in Copenhagen the “outcome should also substantially scale up financial assistance to developing countries; promote technology development, dissemination and transfer; pay particular attention to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt to climate change[].” So the U.S. and China agree with financial assistance to developing countries the subject of a recent blog of mine about Third World countries demanding climate reparations in the form of financial assistance from developed countries. http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2009/11/u-s-out-of-step-with-climate-debt-issues/.

I’m not sure whether President Obama or President Hu of China agrees with the concept of these climate reparations per se but they did agree on the financial assistance to poorer countries. I’m just wondering how Obama is going to break this news to climate skeptics divided again along party lines when these skeptics won’t even admit man is creating the climate problem. As I said, many in the U.S. are in a misstep with the rest of the world concerning climate change.
Meanwhile, the two presidents hashed out quite a cooperative between the U.S. and China on many fronts. The article listed six initial elements:

1) Establishment of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center

2) The launch of the U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative

3) The launch of a new U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Action Plan

4) The pledge to promote cooperation on cleaner uses of coal, including large-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects

5) The launch of a new U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative

6) U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program

There is more launching going on with that list then at Cape Kennedy, which is all well and good since so many arguments that keep the U.S. from moving forward on climate initiatives center around pointing the finger at China’s pollution. But considering Americans are contrary, and big polluting industries are gearing up for a fight against cleaning up our act, it’s going to be a big upward struggle to get moving—China or no China.

Read the details: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/nov2009/2009-11-17-01.asp.

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Delisting Wolves Was Illegal?

After thoughtful deliberation, Federal Court Chief Judge Donald Molloy found that the Federal Government likely violated the law by removing the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act. Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, is off to a bad start, but then again no one in the conservation/animal world is too surprised. Salazar is a RANCHER. Although many ranchers in the west are adapting their routines in order to accommodate both wolves and bears in the region, many, many more view them as expendable.

Unfortunately, the same judge failed to issue an injunction to halt the hunts this year. According to ENS, the 13 conservation/animal groups that filed suit against Salazar said that they feared the hunts would “cripple the regional wolf population by isolating wolves into disconnected subgroups incapable of genetic or ecological sustainability. They warn that the wolf hunts would allow the killing of the breeding alpha male and female wolves, disrupting wolf social groups and leaving pups more vulnerable.”

Idaho is allowed to kill 220 wolves and Montana 75 wolves. So how is this done fairly? It ends up being far more than 220 wolves in Idaho or 75 in Montana because of orphaned pups that won’t survive. At 4 to 7 pups on average per litter, 1000 wolves or more could perish in this seemingly small hunt. It’s not well known to the public either that over ¼ of wolf pups succumbed to parvo virus in the spring. So the wolves are taking a bigger hit than we think.

I’ve read the 3 year USDA study of radio collared wolves living around the perimeter of cattle fields and saw the scientific evidence that disputes wolves are just “cold blooded” killers. The wolves crossed the cattle fields nightly. In 3 years only 8 head of cattle disappeared and I’m sure the rancher was awarded money for those few head of cattle lost annually. There doesn’t seem to be as much science as politics in Salazar’s decision. The head of Defenders of Wildlife, one of the 13 groups thinks likewise. This new ruling by Judge Molloy should garner the interest of the Obama Administration relative to Salazar’s thoughtless decision. Hopefully, our wildlife populations will get a fair shake in the future.

Read more: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2009/2009-09-09-091.asp

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Native Americans Stand Up for the Environment and Sue the Secy. of State, and Army Corp. of Engineers

The Native American community is standing up for the environment in the form of a lawsuit against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Deputy Secy. James Steinbridge, and the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers over Enbridge Energy’s Alberta Clipper pipeline set to “deliver 450,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day to be pumped from northern Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, for refining,” according to an article on ENS.

Evidently, the pipeline crosses Native American soil without their approval. It would also “impact over 200 water bodies and would destroy more than 1,200 acres of upland forested lands, more than 650 acres of open lands, and more than 1,300 acres of wetlands.” The Native Americans have support in the legal system through major Environmental Groups like Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and state environmental groups also.

Tar sand oil is some of the dirtiest and the Native Americans say that the pipeline is not is not keeping the ideology of moving toward cleaner energy promoted by the Obama Administration and that the Obama Administration is not listening to the petitions and voices of a growing number of Americans that want to move to a cleaner future for America.

I have to reiterate here that after the presidential election the number one issue people were concerned about was 1) NATIONAL HEALTH CARE, and 2) THE ENVIRONMENT. I was happy to hear that and blogged about it. I have to admit that I was a little surprised that the Iraq war was not in the one or two slot. I was also surprised to see the Obama Administration put so many conservative leaning politicians at the head of many of the Departments within the government relative to the environment and animal welfare like Ken Salazar, who to me is not any better than Kempthorne that headed up the Dept. of Interior under Bush. Salazar is nothing but a Blue Dog Democrat (might as well be a Republican) RANCHER, and therefore, the plight of polar bear has been ignored and we’re now slaughtering wolves in Yellowstone park even though they never grew to the numbers they were supposed to before control measures were needed.

Just so you know, we’re slaughtering wolves claiming they are over running their numbers when in fact 27% of all wolf pups suffered horrible deaths due to the parvo virus that can strike our own dogs. Nature balances many of our wild animal populations, plus we infringe on them horribly through urban sprawl and loss of habitat, and our pollution, but we insist on hunting them anyway because of the power of the HUNTING LOBBY and glorified NRA.

I’m glad Native Americans are finally speaking out to protect the land that was rightfully theirs to begin with. Hopefully, they will support efforts to keep wolves protected too since wolves have long been an honored part of their culture also.

Read more: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2009/2009-09-03-091.asp

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Global Cooling Based on Bad Data

I’m hearing about global cooling again and thought I’d look over the new global cooling articles the other day and found one that was really fresh, 7 hours fresh. It was by an MIT scientist. But when I checked further I found it was by Professor Richard Lindzen, and therefore very predictable. Lindzen is a long time global warming skeptic that sites data and papers from the SPPI, Science and Public Policy Institute.
http://www.examiner.com/x-7715-Portland-Civil-Rights-Examiner~y2009m8d18-Carbon-Dioxide-irrelevant-in-climate-debate-says-MIT-Scientist? http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/co2_report_july_09.pd.

Professor Lindzen is a member of the Science, Health, and Economic Advisory Council of the Annapolis Center, a Maryland-based think tank that has been funded by corporations including Exxon Mobil. So it’s a wealthy, corporate think tank.

And SPPI is actually two groups with the same name. The 2nd SPPI is the source of my research, the one established by Robert Ferguson, SPPI’s president. http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/press/global_warming_not_catastrophic.html.
Source Watch reports Robert Ferguson, president of the 2nd SPPI, was also Executive Director for the CSPP, Center for Science and Public Policy, as a project of Frontiers of Freedom Institute the think tank associated with Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowicz, Dick Cheney and the Iraq War. The SPPI website of Ferguson’s draws on papers from Lord Monkton. Monkton is a journalist that writes papers about climate for the Guardian, and the American Physical Society. According to Source Watch, a writer for the Guardian George Monbiot points out that Monkton has a degree in classics and a diploma in journalism with no other qualifications.
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Christopher_Monckton.

So Lindzen is a member of a corporate think tank that uses papers about climate by a journalist with no other qualifications than classics and journalism that are published on a website also referred to by Lindzen that is the creation of a man that was executive director of a pet project of another neocon think tank that brought us the Iraq war. I can’t help but smell oil. It’s just natural instinct.

I read Monkton’s entire article and looked and looked for the global surface temperature record that he said was updated and published every month on SPPI’s website that shows no statistically-significant “global warming” for almost 15 years. I couldn’t find it and quite frankly a decent writer includes links to the data simply because I’ve been looking everywhere for that mysterious cooling data. If you have the goods, you put them out there and much of his article had absolutely no links and the rest was graph after graph that more than likely used data from satellite sensors and ARGO floats.

What I found while trying to connect the dots was that for quite some time there were conflicting sets of data about worldwide surface temps. There is plenty of data out there from satellites in orbit using sensors and actual ships, buoys, and buildings. There are more stations near dense populations. However, out in the extremes of the Arctic and Antarctic, not so much. The problems lie in the way the numbers are determined.

There is the NOAA’s data collected from over 1000 land-based weather stations, and from approximately 7000 ships and 1000 ocean buoys. Likewise, NASA’s GISS, and Hadley HadCRU use surface and ocean temp measurement stations, while Remote Sensing Systems’ RSS, and the University of Alabama, Huntsville’s UAH are satellite sensing systems from outer space.

GISS and HadCRU use many of the same recording stations (ARGO and XTB’s) but use different methods for computing in areas with little to no stations like the Arctic. GISS estimates within a 1200-mile stretch of actual readings, and HadCRU doesn’t include whole sections of the Arctic or Antarctic in their averages at all! The Arctic is warming at a faster rate than the rest of the world and it’s left out of the calculations? To add to that, RSS and UAH are satellite sensing systems that use Microwave Sounding Units (MSU’s) of orbiting satellites to estimate temperatures that “provide little coverage of Arctic and Antarctic regions” either according to an article on the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media, http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2008/04/common-climate-misconceptions-global-temperature-records/.

Besides problems with getting all global temp recording systems in sync until 2005, I ran across the website of the actual NASA scientist that made the mistake about ocean surface temps cooling. I also ran across explanations of the problems with ARGO float data and XTB’s. What really bothers me is that if I can find that there has been a problem with the data from all sources especially in the past 8-10 years then surely the skeptics know the very same but put conclusions out there based on it anyway instead of correcting for it. The Yale Forum I sited above explains the problems and the says the same that skeptics cherry pick their sources and bad data is a good place to start.

Along the way I found graphs by NASA that measure earth’s incoming heat versus outgoing long wave radiation too. NASA has been recording this since the 50’s. It was one of the flags that the ocean temp cooling data was in error because the graphs of the two are normally in sync. The problem is that NASA’s records oppose Lindzen’s new paper on outgoing long wave radiation. It will be interesting to see the debate.

Read about the scientist who goofed on the cooling ocean temps:
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/OceanCooling/page1.php.

Problems with XTB’s:
http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/goos/meetings/2008/XBT/bias_AMS.pdf.

So here we have what I’ve been trying to make clear all along. It is very easy to mislead about climate change by cherry picking sources, but in the end “whoever” always get tagged for leaving something out to fit his/her purpose. The truth is that much of the data used by skeptics to global warming is based on either satellite data or includes erroneous data. Until 2005 those satellites were even out of kilter with each other. Heck RSS was developed to counteract the poor readings of UAH. Yet the Free Republic website went so far as to accuse the NOAA of exaggerating global temperatures when quite frankly it wasn’t until just recently that GISS, HadCRU, UAH, and RSS finally got into sync with each.
http://webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=daleoj&date=080717.

And what about the IPCC? What reporting do they use? It’s hard to find because if you ask that question on Google you will get pages of skeptic reports about the supposedly nefarious IPCC. But I finally did find the IPCC Data Bank and holy cow they track everything and how it is or is not in sync with something else. Have a look. It is impressive. And we are still warming up.
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter3.pdf.

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High Winds Hit Grosse Ile; Looked Like a Tornado to Me

Yep, that’s right. That nifty little storm that came up quick yesterday then went on to damage homes in Grosse Ile looked like a tornado to me. I caught the western edge of that dark strip. I live in Berlin Twp. and am about a ½ mile inland from the lake.

I was painting my living room yesterday. I saw clouds gathering and stepped outside to get my cats in, and put small things on the deck away. I thought to myself, “Perfect tornado weather.” I thought I’d better check the local news—nothing, not even the little icon in the corner showing thunderstorms. I went back to working in the living room. I have 12 ft. of southern exposure across the front and the blinds were wide open. It got so dark at one point I couldn’t see what I was doing. I stood in front of those windows with a wet paint brush and thought, “Uh oh.”

I saw a defined edge to a large swath of black as far south as I could see. The dark section in the sky was to the east of me and at a diagonal. Directly in front of me was a lighter sky, much lighter. I couldn’t tell how wide the dark swath was because trees blocked my view. All of a sudden there was a crack of lightening and buckets of rain shot out at the windows like someone hit them with a high-powered hose. My clump birch tree was bent toward me…I closed the blinds.

I walked into the kitchen and looked out on the deck facing directly west. The water was pouring off the roof so hard it held the mesh top to a pergola down. The rain kept it from blowing off, but the whole metal pergola started moving toward a step down. Then my chairs started to move, something they normally don’t do because the material is mesh and allows the wind to blow through. I thought, “This can’t be good, yet no siren, no news about it.” Luckily the top of the pergola blew up and got stuck on the last wrung. There was nothing catching the wind to move it any longer.

The rain kept pouring buckets. I walked to the TV room in the back and looked out that doorwall to see where the storm headed. I was facing north and could see the black swath head for the lake but it didn’t break up. Later on my husband called and said, “So there was a tornado or something hit the south end of Grosse Ile.” I told him the edge went past the yard. I told him about the pergola walking toward the step.

The rain lasted longer than the wind. When I walked back into the living room near the front door I wondered what I spilled on the floor. Then I saw a little wave of water was forced under my screen door, and then my entry door. That’s how hard the storm pounded.

The looks of that dark swath with a definite edge facing west anyway, looked ominously like the tornado I watched on 20/20 Friday night. That tornado was like a large block of darkness in the sky, but tornadoes can be thin in width with a tail that briefly touches down, wide with a tail, or just plain devastating wide as far as the eye can see meaning large girth and large tail capable of wiping out a town. What I saw may have had a little whipping tail that smacked down on Grosse Ile. Or maybe it was a “biggun” that stayed in the sky. It didn’t look like straight line winds. Everything in my backyard was swirling. My sunflowers are all twisted or knocked down today.

I’m just mad I didn’t put that paint brush down long enough to snap a little You Tube video of it. Darn!

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Contaminated Wells in Michigan Directly Linked to Michigan’s Senate Decisions About Groundwater

The cover story in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press was: “Afraid of the Water.” It’s worth reading the article about citizen’s problems with contaminated wells in many agricultural areas in Michigan. Industries (mainly food) that exist near residential homes spray their wastewater on the surrounding fields. It causes leaching of metals in the soil. That mixes with the groundwater and the runoff ends up in drinking wells. The extensive article went on to say that the state assured the people the levels of iron and metals in their water did not pose an immediate health hazard, but long-term illness from it is still unknown. Our lives are being measured in parts per million again.

Aside from illness is the resident’s inability to sell their homes. One small business owner said his filters, heat boiler, and water softener got so clogged with iron they no longer worked. Who’s going to pay for that? And why has the state been so slow to do something about the ever-growing contaminated plumes infiltrating our groundwater? The article claims state officials have known about the problem for at least a decade. But the reason nothing has been done is because agriculture is the number 2 industry in Michigan employing thousands and bringing in billions.

What I don’t understand is if this industry is so profitable why don’t they put some money toward cleaning up their act? The article went on to say that the state and industry are working out the problems behind closed doors and without public input. What we have here is self-regulation that went horribly wrong. Belief in self-regulating industry comes from none other than Michigan’s Republican Senate.

I distinctly remember Michigan Democratic congress people trying to get stiffer regulations on CAFO’s in the past few years. They cited pollution of the interior of N.C. as an example of what can happen when huge industries like Smithfield Foods in that instance contaminated land, streams, and eventually the coastal waters from their practice of spraying fields with wastewater that included animal feces, blood, pesticides, antibiotics, etc. But our Senate squashed the Dem’s proposal saying the current regulations were good enough. They took the less is better route, (trusting industry), and opting to fine perpetrators when and if an “accident” happened. Only this is no accident. It’s standard practice for industry to spray their wastewater on surrounding land. What the senate proposed was: “We’ll smack them on the back of their hands, and fine them for being bad,” then back to business as usual. And the senate won.

I also wrote a blog just about a year ago that the state was cutting the DEQ, so no one would be around to monitor wetland contamination (groundwater) or pollution spills. http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2008/09/deq-wont-be-checking-on-wetlands-or-pollution-spills-due-to-cuts/. The gist of that blog, however, was how the Republican Senate just a few months earlier fought to keep at least 25% of all of Michigan’s groundwater out of the Great Lakes Compact, and specifically out of the public’s domain. Surely they anticipated more statewide cuts in light of the economy, which would leave wetlands and/or groundwater not only unprotected but also without regulators nosing around. It was an industry’s dream scenario.

So Michigan’s Republican Senate is responsible for blocking more regulation for CAFO pollution that directly affects our groundwater, fighting to keep 25% of Michigan’s groundwater from protection under the Great Lakes Compact, and the whole time knowing full well that there would be fewer regulators on hand to monitor any violators. The citizen’s in the Freep article should be “Afraid of the Water”—very afraid. They should thank Michigan’s Senate for helping industry along.

Michigan’s Republican Senate has protected industry above the health and monetary concerns of Michigan residents more than not. This is not how government is supposed to work. We elect officials to represent us not industry. You may say the senate is only protecting jobs. At 63 billion in profits last year just for Michigan’s food industry, they can afford to be good stewards of the land that keeps them in business. Job loss is just a threat. What they really fear is profit loss. But if industry, especially the food industry, continues their practices as before, they are in essence, stupidly poisoning the ground that feeds them, and everyone else in their path.

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